Roger Ebert Dies at 70


Roger Ebert, long the chief film critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, and the man who did more to define the popular dialogue about movies than any other person, has died at the age of 70.

The Sun-Times reports his passing. Ebert had battled cancer for many years; the disease infected his jaw and cost him his ability to speak in 2006. Earlier this week he announced a “leave of presence” from his position at the paper, citing a cancerous relapse.

Throughout the past decade, illness did not deter Ebert, who became an even more voluminous writer after losing his power of speech. He used Twitter to create a constant dialogue with his audience and the world at large, evolving from a film critic to cultural commentator. Ebert’s opinions, particularly those on video games, were not always popular. No matter the subject, however, Ebert wrote honestly, with an openness that avoided cheap shots and welcomed dialogue with readers. For a man whose voice and words carried so much weight, he’ll be remembered as someone who listened.

How many people become more vital, and more engaged with the world, in their sixth decade of life? I’ve watched and read Ebert since the late ’70s, beginning with his early sparring sessions with Gene Siskel on Sneak Previews, but over thirty years later the man was more of a cultural force than ever.

Roger Ebert taught me to do what you love, to do it with passion and honesty, and to face difficulties with dignity. He was the cinematic mentor for multiple generations. Ebert inspired countless readers to follow their own voice, but none will ever be quite what he was.


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Roger Ebert on Film Criticism

We miss you already.

The world’s most famous film critic is having a documentary made about him by some of the most famous filmmakers around. Documentarian Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and Oscar-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) have optioned the rights to Ebert’s 2011 memoir, Life Itself. Martin Scorsese will executive produce. Read more after the jump. Read More »

Roger Ebert’s Top 20 Movies of 2011

With just days to go until the end of 2011 (Where did the year go???), legendary film critic Roger Ebert has announced his top 20 movies of the year. Just as you’d expect from Ebert, his list runs the gamut from mainstream blockbusters to more obscure foreign or arthouse projects — with enough in the latter category to offer up some useful suggestions for your Netflix queue. Read his list after the jump.

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Roger Ebert’s ‘At the Movies’ Going on Hiatus

After recent reports that PBS’ Ebert Presents At the Movies was in financial trouble, executive producer Roger Ebert has now announced that the film review television series will be going on hiatus while Ebert and his wife/co-producer Chaz Ebert find additional funding. “This move is necessary to allow the public television stations that carry our show to plan their programs for the beginning of the new year,” he wrote on his blog. “We held off as long as possible but we had to give notice today.”

At the Movies debuted in January 2011 with hosts Christy Lemire, who writes for the Associated Press, and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, who writes for the Chicago Reader and Mubi. The show is scheduled to go on hiatus at the end of December, by which point it will have produced 50 episodes. More details after the jump.

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Beloved film critic Roger Ebert‘s new 448-page book Life Itself: A Memoir will be released in hardcover on September 13th 2011, and is now available for preorder. The book tells the story of Ebert’s life, and his rise and journeys as the most popular film critic in cinema history. Ebert has posted the introduction chapter, titled “Memory”, on his Chicago Sun Times blog. Hit the jump to read the book description.

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Roger Ebert’s TED Talk: “Remaking My Voice”

Earlier this year, Pulitzer prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert gave a TED Talk presentation entitled “Remaking My Voice”.

When film critic Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw to cancer, he lost the ability to eat and speak. But he did not lose his voice. In a moving talk from TED2011, Ebert and his wife, Chaz, with friends Dean Ornish and John Hunter, come together to tell his remarkable story.

The talk isn’t about film or movies, but it is worth your time. Watch Roger’s TED Talk embedded after the jump.

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Roger Ebert Predicted The Future Of Film In 1987

We all know that Roger Ebert is a genius when it comes to film, but it turns out he’s a fortune teller as well. The year was 1987. Cable TV was in its infancy and many of us had to get up from the couch to change the channel. Betamax was still trying to compete with VHS and recording a TV show required a VCR and an alarm clock. Renting movies from a video store was a family event and the average movie ticket was around $5. In short, things were incredibly different from how they are now.

At the same time Ebert, who was currently on the air with Siskel & Ebert, was doing an interview with Omni Magazine and the famous Chicago Sun-Times film critic was asked about how fierce the competition between television and movies would be in the future. His answer, given almost 25 years ago, was just about right on the money. Read what he said after the jump. Read More »

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